From machine manufacturer to global technology leader

125 years GEA Separation

07
 Oelde is GEA’s largest single site worldwide with a production area of around 37,000 m2 Picture: GEA
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1893 – It was the year of inventions that are still indispensable today, such as the diesel engine by Rudolf Diesel and the zipper by Whitcomb Judson. At the same time, the businessman Franz Ramesohl and the cabinetmaker Franz Schmidt in Oelde, Westphalia, proved their innovative strength, creativity and stamina. They opened a workshop on September 1, 1893, and produced a hand-operated milk centrifuge with the model name “Westfalia”. Ramesohl & Schmidt oHG had three locksmiths and two turners 125 years ago. They produced the hand-operated milk centrifuges with the simplest but effective equipment. Entrepreneurial skills, craftsmanship and technical expertise coupled with a love for innovation formed the basis for the following 125 years.

The roots of the company developed into today’s GEA site, the most modern separator plant in the world. The products “made in Oelde” are supplied all over the world. The export quota is currently over 80 %. GEA’s expertise now encompasses over 3500 different processes and 2500 products for various industries ranging from food and beverage, marine, oil and gas to power, chemical, pharmaceutical and environmental technology. 

Regionally rooted, globally active

Today, Oelde is GEA’s largest single site worldwide with a production area of around 37,000 m2. Around 1900 employees are currently working in the areas of design, production and administration. GEA invested heavily in the site in 2013. “We had and still have the clear ambition not simply to swim in the global competition, but to determine it by increasing efficiency,” says Steffen Bersch, member of the GEA Executive Board, who worked for many years in Oelde himself. The new separator production enables GEA to optimise processes throughout the entire production process. The use of well-trained and committed employees in conjunction with modern production machines and technologies has led to significantly reduced throughput times in the production of the separators and plants, most of which are customized to the customer’s needs, while maintaining above-average product quality.

The company’s own Process Test Center (PTC), which opened in 2014 and provides extensive specialist support for customers’ investment projects, also enables even greater customer orientation: Starting with the specification of product properties through the determination and design of machine types to pilot tests at GEA and on site at the customer’s premises. In cooperation with the customer, GEA Product Managers and GEA Process Development, the PTC also develops and tests completely new processes.

Technology from Oelde all over the world

Being successful for 125 years also means rethinking proven product and process solutions and pushing the boundaries to set new standards through new and further developments. In most cases it is applications “behind the scenes”, i.e. not visible at first glance, in which GEA technologies are installed. But these are not infrequently spectacular. Example: Dubai, The Palm. The artificial islands in the shape of a palm tree, visible even from outer space, are built on – and thus produce wastewater. They are cleaned in an underground sewage treatment plant with GEA decanters. The plant has a capacity of up to 15 m3/h. Strengthened by 125 years of success, GEA Separation continues to follow in the footsteps of digital transformation – and so this anniversary not only marks a milestone in the company’s history. At the same time, it is an incentive to push ahead with innovations and continue to improve customer processes and, not least, people’s lives in the long term – in other words, “engineering for a better world”.

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